I sampled the delights of the cold water during my first year as medical student. As soon as my brain was loosing track of my reviewing, I was taking a brief cold shower. It’s my uncle Claude, an illuminated Yoga teacher, who had sung the praises of it. I’d told myself that of all his absurd theories, I risked nothing to test one, discreetly. The result of my first freezing shower was immediate: reinvigorated, I was ready to battle with the rest of the statistics course. It quickly became a positive ritual: one brief cold shower every 30 minutes of work, in order to learn fast and well. After 30 years, my friends know that before and after doing sport, I would end up in the river, in the sea or to break the ice of their pool in order to dive in the freezing water… Above all, I don’t want that they imitate me, I want to have a slight physiological advantage over them!
As I am often lazy, I have to reactivate my anchor of addiction to cold water. This conditioned response allows me to overcome the insupportable contact between the cold water and the skin, which only disappears when my head is finally dipped. To “bypass” this freezing passage, I do the “fast method”, which I strictly forbidden to the others: dive firstly the head or start to take the shower by the head. I admire the courage and intelligence of those who are able to enter gradually in the freezing water!
A simple head immersion is enough to trigger the brain “reset” and the stream of neurological and physiological benefits that result of it.
I have Raynaud’s (vasoconstriction of extremities), that means that my feet, hands and genitals freeze very painfully when in contact with the cold. So when the water is freezing, I often wear gloves, socks (sometimes in neoprene) and animal skin underpants (otherwise I get out of the water with a vagina).
Of course, a hot shower is more beneficial if I come down with an infection. And even more if I’m frozen, my mouth numb as far as being unable to say a sentence, such as after an effort during the winter. That would be the fastest way to get the flu or to turn a small cough into pneumonia! Personally, I was spared but I had seen these at many patients or fellow sportsmen.
There are 2 physical concepts to remember:
1) The water is a 24 times more powerful conductor than the air; therefore we need 24 times more energy to stay 1 minute in a water at 24°C than staying 24 minutes outside at 24°C!
2) The body cools down 3 times faster when the head is immersed. So in addition to neurological benefits of immersing the head, the peripheral effects of immersing in cold water are multiplied by 3!
I succumbed! since 2018! Wim Hof inspires me a lot Especially his simple breathing technique applicable to health and sport (article coming soon)
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